It's official. Over the past two or three years, rumors have proffered the cessation of sales and/or support of Primavera P3 (Primavera Project Planner) and SureTrak; indeed, there have even been published dates, such as on Oracle's GSA schedule available on the Internet. Each year the rumors prove false or Oracle/Primavera has moved the published date back. This time, it appears to be official -- our sources at Oracle have confirmed Primavera P3 and SureTrak will no longer be sold after December 31, 2010. "Sustaining" support for P3 and SureTrak will continue indefinitely.
What does this mean to you? The obvious choice, as preferred by Oracle, is to move to Oracle Primavera P6 Project Management (now in version 7; version 8 due out this fall). The other choices are to keep using your copy of P3 or SureTrak, as many of you have been doing, switch to another product, or find an occupation that doesn't need scheduling. All kidding aside, there are quite a few of you who will need to stay on the old programs for one reason or other, such as schedule analysis or contract requirements. Finding new bugs is rare, so support is really not an issue. Application usage questions are often happily answered by the user community.
We're still waiting to hear from Oracle what the upgrade situation is. In the past, if you had a paid up P3 maintenance contract, which cost approximately $1,000/year, you were entitled to a free upgrade to P6. In so far as there have been no upgrades to P3 in recent years, the primary reason to continue to stay on a support contract is for the upgrade privilege and for application support for inexperienced users.
Moving to P6
It's been five years since P6 was introduced (originally P3e/c) and we do hear more frequently of contractors successfully updating. Indeed, the publisher of Project Controls & BIM Report uses P6 on a daily basis and has reported it to be stable and essentially perform all needed functions previously available in P3. For managing multiple projects in an enterprise environment, its original "raison d'etre," it excels, proving to be a major time saver. Its steps feature is a boon for contractors and its enhanced WBS capabilities greatly improve schedule building and reporting.
Steeper Learning Curve
We look back and think P3 was reliable, powerful and easy to use. It probably seems that way since our learning experience evolved over a multi-year period concurrent with Primavera's own evolution, particularly as it transitioned from DOS to Windows. The P6 learning curve is similarly slow, primarily because the transition included the substantial design and development of an enterprise system. Clearly, this was a learning experience for Primavera as well. But it has proven to be worth it.
What's next is not so much as important as what's next for you? P6 has turned the corner and can perform your scheduling projects more than adequately. If you are on P3, we recommend you upgrade and just start using the program. It does have some quirks, particularly in the management of baselines and upgrades, demanding more upfront work to build your resource tables, your organizational breakdown structure and your enterprise breakdown structure along with disciplined procedures for maintaining baselines, updates and backups.
What's next as far as Oracle Primavera is concerned is a continued effort to fix bugs, add yet-to-be transitioned P3 features and add new user-requested enhancements. Beyond that, Oracle Primavera continues to put substantial effort into development of web-based capabilities. As we become a more mobile workforce, the ability to access our schedules and to provide select views for others on the project team becomes more productive.
Where to Start -- The Essential P6 Transition Toolkit
Construction Project Controls & BIM Report recently announced a unique mixed-media resource collection designed especially for those moving to P6 from Primavera and SureTrak -- The Essential P6 Transition Toolkit. Drawing upon four education and training tools written by construction experts to help you master P6:
- The P3 To Project Manager Transition Guide (for P6 Version 7) Written by Gordon Aronson (130 pages, 4-color, PDF document for immediate Internet download)
- Project Planning and Control Using Primavera P6, 2010 edition Written by Paul Harris (378 pages, softbound printed copy, includes shipping and handling)
- Challenges and Lessons Learned with Primavera's Project Management Software Written by Sunu Mohan and Anne Marie Tombros (90-minute recorded webinar, includes shipping and handling). Focuses in-depth on difference in P3 and P6 and how they affect program usage, schedule calculations and schedule analysis.
- Construction Project Controls & BIM Report Published by WPL Publishing Co., Inc. One-year subscription delivered monthly by email and on the Internet, this publication includes dozens of scheduling and Primavera-specific articles written by industry experts. Look up tips and techniques from past issues and keep posted on new Primavera developments that can help you be a better scheduler and get more from your schedule software applications.
This extremely useful toolkit is being offered for a phenomenally low price, over 50% off the individual retail value. Total retail value is $793.
There are several views of the future that will affect all of us. The widespread use of smartphones, tablet PCs, Ipads and soon-to-be Ipad copycats will increase the demand for schedule information at our fingertips. 4D scheduling is a proven concept for larger contractors and will start scaling down to the small-to-midsize contractors and subs.
Picture yourself on a job site with an Ipad. The GPS tells you where you're standing in the BIM model, and you can see what's scheduled to go in that spot over the next few weeks or the rest of the job right there simulated on your Ipad. RFID-tagged materials will update schedules automatically as rough-in and finish work go into place. When field conflicts are encountered that did not get past the BIM clash detection, virtual meetings with the parties involved can be held on the spot using web-conferencing enabled camera-phones and Ipads. Having the schedules on-hand to study the affect of necessary changed sequences or downstream material utilization will help quickly arrive at a consensus decision.
The future is not that far-fetched, or far away. Scheduling remains the essential planning tool necessary for the proper execution of the project. Whether today's tools will evolve with the industry or if totally new tools need to be developed remains to be seen. Meanwhile, take advantage of The Essential P6 Transition Toolkit today. Your feedback is invited.